Joint tenants are equally responsible for paying the rent. You all have the same rights and responsibilities.
You have a joint tenancy if you and the other tenants all signed a single tenancy agreement with a landlord when you moved in.
If each of you signed a separate agreement with the landlord, you have separate tenancies.
Right to rent
You can only become a private tenant if you have the right to rent. Each joint tenant must have the right to rent.
A private landlord or letting agent must carry out a right to rent check before you sign up to a private tenancy.
Find out more about the right to rent.
Paying the rent when you're a joint tenant
Joint tenants are all jointly and individually responsible for paying the rent. This means that if one of you moves out without giving notice or is not paying their share, the other joint tenants are responsible for paying it for them.
If none of you pay your rent, your landlord can ask any one of you to pay the outstanding rent.
All the joint tenants are usually also responsible for paying gas and electricity bills.
When you move into private rented accommodation, you usually need to pay a tenancy deposit to cover any damage or unpaid rent.
If you have an assured shorthold tenancy check that your deposit is protected with a tenancy deposit scheme.
Find out about tenancy deposit protection scheme rules.
Deductions from a tenancy deposit
The landlord normally takes a single deposit for the whole of the tenancy. Even if you and the other joint tenants paid separate or different shares to the landlord or agent.
If one joint tenant fails to pay their share of the rent or if they cause damage to the property, the landlord is entitled to deduct the shortfall or the costs of the damage from the whole deposit.
Find out more about deductions a landlord can make from your deposit.
You and the other joint tenants decide how to divide up the remaining deposit when it is returned.
Find out how to get your deposit back.
Tenancy deposits when a joint tenant moves out
If you are replacing another tenant who is moving out, they may ask you to pay the deposit to them instead. This could cause problems. If the tenant who is moving out has caused any damage to the property or left any unpaid bills, the landlord can deduct these costs from the deposit when you move out.
Get advice if you are in this situation. It might be better to ask the landlord to give a new tenancy agreement to you and the other tenants who are staying on.
Use Shelter's advice services directory to find a face-to-face adviser near you.
Permission for changes
You need to get written permission from the other joint tenants if you want to carry out improvements to the property or pass on or assign your tenancy to someone else.
In most cases you also need your landlord's permission to make improvements or take in a lodger.
How you can end a fixed-term joint tenancy
If you have a fixed-term tenancy (for example for 12 months) you can only the tenancy before the fixed term ends if:
- you, the other tenants and your landlord all agree that the tenancy can end early (this is called a 'surrender')
- there is a 'break clause' in your tenancy agreement, which allows you to give notice and end your tenancy early
You need the agreement of the other joint tenants to end your tenancy early.
Find out more about ending a tenancy.
How to end a joint tenancy that isn't a fixed-term
If you don't have fixed-term tenancy or it has ended been renewed, you or any other joint tenant can end the tenancy by giving a valid notice to quit.
You can do this with or without the agreement of the other joint tenants. The tenancy ends for all the joint tenants.
When the tenancy ends none of you has the right to continue living there.
Leaving a joint tenancy
If you want to leave a joint tenancy and the others want to stay it is usually best to discuss it with the other joint tenants before you take any action.
If they don't want to move out, they can try to negotiate a new agreement with the landlord.
The remaining tenants may be able to find another person to become a joint tenant with them. They must get the landlord's agreement for this.
Or the remaining tenants could all agree to stay on and pay the rent between them.
However if the joint tenancy has not been ended the landlord could still ask you to pay any arrears if the rent is not fully paid, even if you are no longer living there.
Get advice from Shelter about leaving a joint tenancy.
Use Shelter's directory to find an advice centre near you.
Eviction of joint tenants
Your landlord cannot evict one joint tenant without evicting all the others.
Your landlord may be able to end the tenancy (using the procedures for eviction) and offer a new one to the remaining tenants.
Talk to your landlord as soon as possible if you are in this situation and you want to stay.
Use Shelter's directory to find an adviser in your local area.
Get advice if you are worried about losing your home after a relationship breakdown.
Your landlord could grant you a new tenancy in your name only if the joint tenancy has been properly ended.
You may also have other rights. For example:
- it may be possible for court to transfer the tenancy into your name – even if the other joint tenant won't agree to it
- it may be possible to stop the other joint tenant from ending the tenancy by applying for an occupation order or an injunction
- if you have experienced domestic violence, it may be possible to keep the perpetrator out of your home or to take legal action such as an injunction
Problems with other joint tenants
If you have a problem with another joint tenant you probably have to sort this out yourself.
Landlords are usually reluctant to get involved, although council or housing associations are more likely to get involved than private landlords.